My name is Hector and I.M. Beyond Borders. It's the start of a new year, but also a month full of uncertainty. I recently transferred from a community college to University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. I'm the first DACA student to attend UTMB and am doing so with a full-ride scholarship.
I come from a family of hard workers-- both always working tirelessly with low-paid jobs to instill the framework of hard work and not taking anything for granted. They've been so proud of me, but now they're afraid I won't be able to fulfill my dreams.
What happens if DACA, and my work permit, is taken away from me? I recently moved to UTMB in August 2016 to study nursing and plan to receive my bachelors in December 2017. My plans afterwards were to fulfill the at least one-year work experience required to hopefully obtain my masters in nursing. With the strike of his pen, the new president-elect could easily demolish my dreams, as he's already threatened. Without a SSN, I won't be able to work. Without work experience I can't apply to graduate school. Without graduate school, there will be no masters degree nor ability to exercise what I've worked & studied so hard for, even with full-ride scholarships all along my way.
My biggest worry? My future. I've been here since I was 3 years old and the U.S. is the only place I really know. The idea of everything being taken away from me is frightening. When I heard the election results, I was working a 12 hour shift of clinical rotations looking confusing, thinking everything might be over. I called my parents frustrated and asked if I should just drop everything. I wasn't sure if it was worth me going to school. I wasn't sure if I could sit for my license exam. I was considering changing my major and career plans into something outside of the medical field just to play a safer game. It was as if I didn't have control.
I somehow regained the strength to pick myself back up. I've had a few weeks to let it sink in, fully think about potential consequences, talk to the dean at my university, walk it out, and take deep breaths. The most important thing for me has been to stay informed. Everyone should be proactive in being informed about their individual and unique situations. As for me, my university told me I'll be able to finish my bachelors degree and take my license exam no matter what change in my immigration status-- but that may not be the case for everyone.
I'm not sure what will happen between now and December 2017 when I graduate, but I just can't imagine myself living in another country besides the US. Even if everything was taken away from me, I feel I am American and want to stay in this country. It's stressful to worry about this, while at the same time balancing school, my family, and trying to celebrate the holiday season.
To other DACA students, just know that nothing will simply be handed to us. From here, you will have to work harder than the people that aren't DACA, just to receive the same opportunities. You need to find a way to find strength.